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The Art of War: 1918

The Art of War: 1918

Washington, D.C., circa 1918. "U.S. Department of Labor. Artist with war poster." Gerrit A. Beneker at the easel. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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Farmers exempt from the draft

Having raised four sons and also had several of their friends living here, I know how much young men need to eat. That is especially true when they are doing physically punishing work, like training for and fighting in battle. When my mother, at age 12, heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Pres. Roosevelt declaring war, she was terrified that her father would have to fight in the war. She was thrilled to learn that farmers, like her father, were exempt from the draft, because the food they produced was essential to the war effort.

Patriotic Cooperation

The American Magazine of Art, October, 1918.

Gerrit Beneker's Labor Posters

The Navy Department has erected within the last four months a series of huge office buildings for the Army and the Navy in Potomac Park at Washington. Approximately 3,500 laborers were employed on this big job. Fully half of that number were unskilled, many would drop off week by week and their places filled by new recruits. To help keep the men interested, to show them the value of their work as a national asset, to preserve patriotism generally through the medium of art Gerrit A. Beneker early in June was employed by the Navy Department as "Expert Aid" in connection with this work. He was given a small studio specially constructed, supplied with materials and told to go to work.

The result is six striking posters emphasizing to the laboring man the value of his work and bringing to his attention the fact that he too is enlisted in the army of fighters—is helping in short to win the war.

In an interview recently issued by the U. S. Department of Labor, Mr. Beneker is quoted as having said: "We have awakened a real spirit of patriotic cooperation among unskilled labor. If this same spirit is felt all over America, how much more smoothly and rapidly will similar great Government contracts be completed.

"All my life," he says, "I have studied the industrial figure. I have spent hours,—days, weeks,—climbing over skyscrapers and bridges of New York City—into steel and all forms of industrial plants to study the workingman at work. If we wish to appeal directly to labor, we have got to picture the laborer himself, and in such a way that the poster will touch the soul of Labor.

Brick defense

Then there was lil' Ignatz, chuckin' 'em at Krazy Kat. Or am I missing the message contained in this poster?

Feeling much better, thanks

That sure makes this back breaking job much more worthwhile.

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